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Vaccine scandal in China

Chinese online users jump on US embassy Weibo post to vent about vaccine scandal

Internet users express anger over country’s worst public health scare in recent years after embassy posts article about how America learnt from its own vaccine accident decades ago

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 July, 2018, 11:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 July, 2018, 2:59pm

Internet users vented their anger and disappointment with the Chinese authorities on the social media account of the US embassy in Beijing, after it posted an article on Monday about how the US regulator made improvements following a vaccine accident six decades ago.

The article – on what was known in America as the Cutter incident – comes at a sensitive time, after more than half a million Chinese children were found to have been given a faulty DPT vaccine against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus in the country’s worst public health scare in recent years.

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More than 1,000 commented on the article, which was liked more than 1,800 times and shared over 2,700 times after it was posted on Weibo around 11.30am on Monday. This is the third posting by the embassy on vaccines – including one on how vaccine regulations work in the US – since the scandal unfolded last week.

One of the two producers of the faulty DPT vaccines, Changchun Changsheng Bio-technology, was also being investigated for forging production data and undermining production protocol when producing a rabies vaccine.

According to the embassy posting, in 1955, more than 40,000 children in the US received a polio vaccine, manufactured by the California-based family firm Cutter Laboratories, in which the process of inactivating the live virus proved to be defective. Some 200 children were left with varying degrees of paralysis and 10 died.

The posting said the US Congress held the Laboratory of Biologics Control affiliated to the US government responsible for the incident and two senior officials resigned over it. The “most direct consequence” of the Cutter incident was that the US government established a strict vaccine approval and regulation system.

Internet users reacted strongly to the posting and expressed their distrust of the Chinese regulatory system.

One internet user who supported the embassy posting said it was a slap in the face for China.

“I just want to ask whether there will be any official taking responsibility and resigning or being punished for this. Why was our regulatory authority cleared of responsibility when such a thing happened?” asked another.

“Do you know about Sun Xianze?” asked a third, referring to a regulatory official with the China’s food and drug regulator who was held responsible for the melamine milk contamination case a decade ago, but was later promoted to take charge of drug safety.

Parents seek ‘justice’ for babies killed by tainted milk

This is not the first time Chinese internet users have flocked to the US embassy’s Weibo account to express their discontent.

In February stock investors flooded the social media account with complaints about stock losses after the country’s equities suffered their steepest weekly plunge in two years.